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By JERRY TALLMER | It was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who in 1964 famously declared that he could not define pornography “but I know it when I see it.”
Well, I know racism — hatred of a race that is not your own — when I see it, or hear it, or smell it. And in the case of The Great American Negrophobia that has now given us a death in a gated community in Florida, I’ve been smelling it since well before a self-dramatizing hysteric named Sarah Palin emerged out of nowhere from a teacup to proclaim, “It’s time to take our country back.”
Take it back from whom, Madame?
Why, from the blacks and spics and all of those, who else?
How many of “those” do you have, anyway, up there in Alaska?
I don’t know. Too many. And the Russkies, over there.
Thank you, Ms. Palin.
Don’t call me “Ms.”
O.K. Back on track, Joey Bishop once said to this writer: “Class will out,” and surely no one has showed more class than the president of the United States, who this past week, in saying that if he had a son, that son would look like Trayvon Martin, said it all.
George Michael Zimmerman. Don’t know him. The only Zimmermans I’ve ever known were Paul Zimmerman, a New York Post sports writer; Broadway’s great Ethel Merman, born Zimmerman; and Edgar Zimmerman, a spooky, 250-pound, gadget-happy, slide rule-wielding, political-spouting nutcase in the U.S. Army Air Force. A freak from Eugene, Oregon.
Remember Pat Loud? Perhaps you’re not old enough. She was the Santa Barbara, California, wife and mother of five who called her husband Bill “a goddamned asshole,” on camera, in the weekly PBS pre-reality “An American Family” series that swept this country in 1973.
Pat Loud had been born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. I spent a day with her when she came to New York to visit her flamboyant teenaged son Lance, who had come out on national TV as a homosexual, and was now living at the Chelsea Hotel, hoping to get into an Andy Warhol movie.
She herself was pretty flamboyant, and now that I think back on it, was somewhat of a Sarah Palin, but much, much nicer. I told her I’d only ever met two people from Eugene, Oregon — herself and someone she surely didn’t know, a kook named Edgar Zimmerman.
“Edgar Zimmerman!” she exclaimed. “Everybody in Eugene, Oregon, knows Eddie Zimmerman! He tackles them at every street corner.”
It would seem to me that Edgar Zimmerman of Eugene, Oregon, and George Michael Zimmerman of Sanford, Florida, are or were connected only as self-appointed messengers of The Law, whether in a gated community in central Florida or on a street corner in Oregon.
They are backed up by all the haters of every stripe who were let out into the poisonous air by Sarah Palin and her “It’s time to take our country back” almost two years ago. Like rote, brainless automatons, every single long-haul candidate for president — Republican candidate — has issued lie after lie after lie, flying flat against the truth about everything Barack Obama (a bla-a-a-ack man) has ever done or tried to do to as president of these imperiled United States.
If these distinguished gentlemen, and a few ladies, can thus distort the simple, naked truth, why not a poor, self-appointed, cop-worshiping, gun-toting, community watchman in a town with the history of Sanford, Florida?
Thanks to Dave Zirin of The Nation and several other writers, we’ve been reminded this past week of how Branch Rickey, in the spring of 1946, was forced to move his Montreal Royals training camp from Sanford to Daytona Beach, Florida, for fear of violence — even murder — by the good white-skinned natives of Sanford against Mrs. and Mr. Jackie Robinson in that ballplayer’s test year.
On December 22, 2001, three days before Christmas and three months after 9/11, Allanson Ryssell (Lance) Loud, age 47, succumbed to AIDS and hepatitis C.
On December 22, 1894, the French military drew up charges of treason against Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew, whose imprisonment on Devil’s Island would impel Emile Zola to sit down and write “J’accuse.”
On December 22, 1984, a white New Yorker named Bernhard Hugo Goetz would, on a downtown No. 6 East Side subway train, shoot and seriously wound four young black men who he thought were about to mug him, or worse. None of them died, but only, Goetz later said, because he’d run out of bullets.